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Is there more than one way for police to convict a DWI?

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Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney and The Charlotte Observer’s 2013 Best Charlotte Lawyer Award winner Brad Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: Is there more than one way for police to convict a DWI?

Question: “Is there more than one way for police to convict a DWI?"

Brad Smith:

In North Carolina the driving while impaired law has two prongs:

The government can either seek to prove your impairment by using your breath or blood alcohol concentration, the “.08” prong of the rule.

The second rule is what is called the appreciable impairment prong. That’s where the government would seek to prove that you were a drunk driver by showing that you are appreciably, or noticeably impaired. What appreciable means is noticeably impaired.

So they would traditionally under that prong they would use evidence of how you performed on field sobriety tests, how your driving was, how you exited the vehicle, did you have to hold onto the vehicle for balance, did you stumble and fall when you got outside of your car, were there open containers of alcohol inside your vehicle, when you were asked to do a simple test were you unable to follow the officers instructions.

What juries are asked to do is apply their common sense when rendering a verdict. And common sense sort of tells you what’s the difference between somebody that’s not drunk and somebody that is drunk.

So the government can seek to prove using dexterity tests and the officers personal interaction with somebody, they can use that sort of evidence to prove that somebody is a drunk driver and then they don’t have to necessarily put in any sort of evidence into play that deals with a breath or blood alcohol concentration number.